For BJP, much hinges on voter turnout in Telangana

Party leaders believe that in LS polls, urban voters support them as Modi remains popular.
BJP flag image used for representational purposes only.
BJP flag image used for representational purposes only.File photo

HYDERABAD: Having set a target of winning at least eight of the 17 seats in Telangana, the BJP is expecting support from voters in urban, semi-urban and rural constituencies to achieve its goal. It is pinning its hopes on the appeal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP’s image among urban voters.

However, if one goes purely by the party’s performance in the recent Assembly elections, the BJP may not achieve its target as a majority of the people in semi-urban areas voted for the Congress, and voters in Greater Hyderabad limits backed the BRS.

Analysts attribute this to a variety of factors, including voter sentiment and local dynamics. Responding to this, BJP leaders say that in national elections, people in urban areas generally vote for the saffron party as Modi remains a popular national leader.

However, despite attempts by the Election Commission of India to encourage voters in urban areas to go out and exercise their franchise, the urban voting percentage has been disappointingly low in all the phases of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections so far. This may well be the deciding factor in a few of the constituencies.

Extended weekend worries party

In the recent Assembly elections, the BJP’s vote share was 13.9%, a steep rise compared to 2018 when its vote share was 6.98%. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP got 19.65% of the votes and won four seats.

BJP leaders are expecting that the party will increase its vote share in this election and give a tough fight in all Lok Sabha seats in the state. It has fielded strong candidates in all the 17 seats. While the BJP believes that a majority of the urban voters will favour its candidates, the fact remains that voter turnout remains disappointing, especially in Greater Hyderabad limits where polling percentage was less than 50.

On top of this, the fact that votes will be cast on Monday has elongated the weekend (May 11 will be second Saturday and May 13 has been declared a general holiday). BJP leaders fear that a majority of urban voters may plan a tour. If their fears come true, the voting percentage in GHMC limits, covering Malkajgiri, Secunderabad, Hyderabad and Chevella constituencies, may drop even lower.

This also holds for other major cities in Telangana like Warangal, Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Khammam and Nalgonda, where urban votes are crucial for the BJP’s success. Also, the state has over 20 semi-urban areas (including district headquarters).

Expects increase in rural voter turnout

While the BJP expects an increase in rural voter turnout, the ruling Congress and the main Opposition BRS are also wooing voters in semi-urban and rural areas. With both parties focusing on regaining lost ground, the BJP faces intense competition.

Also, the BRS continues to pose a tough challenge for the BJP. It won a majority of seats within the GHMC limits during the last Assembly election. The Congress has been resurgent in GHMC limits after coming to power in the state and appears to be gaining traction with the voters.

The BJP is aware of this and is working to counter the division of votes in rural areas and triangular contests in GHMC limits. It all depends on the distribution of votes across urban, semi-urban and rural segments.

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